Purpose: To inform the audience of how Halloween started and transformed to what it is now. Thesis Statement: How Halloween has evolved from what it once was to what is now. Introduction: Patrons of the season of Halloween spend over $2. 5 billion dollars every year on candy, costumes, and decorations. Every year millions of kids get dressed up, knock on doors, and beg for candy. Have you ever wondered where this strange tradition originated?
The three most important points of Halloween can be summed up by looking at its origins, how it came to include jack-o-lanterns and bobbing for apples, and how it is celebrated today with trick-or-treating and haunted houses. * Where the origins of Halloween began. Halloween originated as a Celtic festival more than 2000 years ago. Festival was called Samhain (pronounced sow-in). Celts version of a New Years Eve celebration honoring the end of summer and harvest time. They believed that the veil between the living and the dead spirits was thinnest at this time of year.
Some families would picnic in the cemetery on Halloween or leave a “mute feast” on a table for the spirits and ancestors at night. Since the peoples ancestors were dead, but never completely “vanished,” gave Celts assurance in the immortality of their own souls, making Halloween a encouraging time of year. By the 8th Century, the Roman church enacted a holiday to bypass the worship of spirits. November 1st, was proclaimed as All Saint’s Day to honor the saints and martyrs of the church. This day was also known as “All Hallows Eve”.
The religions and Samhain traditions mixed over time to create the holiday Halloween as we know it. How certain traditions of Halloween came into play. The art of cutting faces into pumpkins, (AKA, Jack O’ Lantern). The name originated from an old Irish myth of “Stingy Jack”. According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks.
Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put in into his pocket next o a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back to his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for 10 years, should Jack die before then, he would not claim his soul. Ten years pass, Jack again tricked the Devil into a tree to pick him an apple before he took his soul. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until he promised Jack not to bother him and to never take his soul. Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven.
The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack out into the night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. In Ireland and Scotland, people would carve scary faces into turnips and potatoes and would place them in their windows or near doors to frighten away wandering evil spirits.
In the mid-late 1840’s, The Irish Potato Famine caused people to immigrate to the United States. Since turnips weren’t readily available in the U. S. , they found pumpkins to be abundant and the best replacement. * The weird water sport of “Bobbing for Apples”. Apples associated with Pomona, the ancient Roman goddess of fertility. Apples were the sacred fruit of the goddess. People believed the apple could be used to determine marriages during this time of year. From this belief, young unmarried people would try to bite into an apple floating in the water. The first person to bite into an apple would be the next one to marry. Halloween as we see it today in the 21st Century. Trick-or-Treating, the most amusing way to get free candy.
During Samhain, the ancient Celts believed the dead would play tricks on them so they would leave bowls of food on doorsteps to appease the dead. In the 9th Century, there is a european custom called “souling”. Christians would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes” made out of square pieces of bread. The more cakes they received, the more prayers they promised to say on behalf of their dead relatives. It is said that the dead remain in limbo for a time after death, and that for each prayer that they receive, can speed up the afterlife process.
When having go outside at night when the spirits were about, they would dress up as one of the dead in the hopes of not being noticed. Wearing masks and other disguises and blackening the face with soot were the original ways of hiding oneself from the spirits of the dead. Going to Haunted Houses in the hopes of getting scared. Hell or Judgment houses are a relatively new concept created by the conservative Christian groups. A Hell House consists of a group of horrific presentations within a type of haunted walks through the woods or houses to raise money for their programs.
The first Hell house called Scaremare was created in the late 1970s. Conclusion: I have shown you how Halloween has evolved from a festival of celebration of the harvest end and to the now, where it is socially acceptable to scare the day lights out of little children, and to go from door to door begging for sweets. Halloween continues to grow in popularity with people who like to explore their imagination of terror and fear and their ability to get others to utter words of fright unwillingly. So remember when you go out on Halloween night, that there just might be a chance that you could run into a spirit from the otherside.